Friday, September 10, 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado (Book Review*)


If I've ever wondered whether God could possibly have any use for an average Joe such as myself, Max Lucado's latest book Outlive Your Life carefully spells out a resounding "YES!" based on examples found in scripture as well as modern history.

Max Lucado brings life to the characters of the Bible, setting the scene and filling in dialogue, empowering images of ourselves and those we know facing the same issues and decisions. He complements familiar tales with personal examples and with stories of average citizens who accomplished extraordinary things through simple acts of grace. With the examples comes a sense of accessibility for steps we can take in our own lives to make changes that will outlast us.

One of the thought-provoking questions that prompted this book is this: "When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?" Outlive Your Life is a "salute to a long life: goodness that oulives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath."

The chapters open with scripture and close with scripture and relevant prayer. The pages in between are reflect more scripture with references to Old and New Testament players great and small. Jesus, Abraham, Peter...most are familiar with their roles in changing history. How about Saul? In Max's retelling of Saul's remarkable conversion tears well up and my heart fills my chest. Even the misguided can be turned around and put to God's good use. What about those who willfully do wrong? Ananias and Sapphira are offered as examples of what not to do, a reminder that God is mighty and just.

Max Lucado gives examples of lives effected by modern apostles such as Bzuneh, a recovering alcoholic in Ethiopia saved by a loving congregation and the example set by Necati, a devout Christian who died crying "Messiah! Messiah!" at the hands of Islamic attackers in Turkey.

Are these examples too extreme or too hard to imagine from the comfort of your own home? Fortunately, there are frequent suggestions for the small acts that we can all perform in our daily lives with little to no disruption in our routine. Pay attention to the people around us. Let them know we care. Look them in the eye and acknowledge their pain and sorrow. It is in serving the least of these that we glorify God.

Finally, the book concludes with a Discussion and Action Guide (prepared by David Drury) that captures the principles of each chapter and offers discussion questions and ideas for action. These points will help personalize the lessons and identify practical actions to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

"May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life." (Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life) This book is a practical guide to helping you do just that.

*Review based on advance copy of Outlive Your Life.

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